The Second World War produced some incredible and heroic personal stories, many well-known but other equally extraordinary stories usually ended up known only by family or friends of those involved. Caroline Horton’s one woman show You’re Not like the Other Girls Chrissy re-enacts the story of Christaine, a warm-hearted young French woman filled with an eccentric and infectious enthusiasm for life and someone who is a natural-born narrator - the type of person who could strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere.
We meet Christaine on a train station in Paris as she desperately tries to make her way to England to be with the shy school teacher she met the previous summer. The play lets us look at a personal story of two people falling in love who not only face the usual obstacles of courting but also have to contend with a war which threatens to hamper their budding romance. Watching the enforced separation is both poignant and moving but never over-played. Horton delivers a fine comic performance and her French accent is spot on – it’s particularly fun watching her attempt traditional British phrases while never falling into ‘Allo ‘Allo caricature.
The play is a good old fashioned piece of story-telling and Horton delivers a gutsy and consistently engaging performance. The staging is simple with some lovely touches such as the suitcases containing pop up representations of the places she has been - one showing us the rolling hills and countryside of England, another the unmistakable skyline of Paris, Eiffel Tower and all.
It is an enjoyable performance throughout but what really lifts the production to another level is its powerfully emotional ending. I won’t lessen its impact by describing it but the finale really packs a punch and I came away inspired by the bravery and fighting spirit of an ‘ordinary’ woman and the thousands of unsung heroes like her.